Alan Boldon, Deputy Head of School, Art, Design and Media.
Andrew Church, Director of Research and Development (Social Sciences).
What are the impacts of participation in relocalism projects on the experience of art, emotional wellbeing and active citizenship, and how can an understanding of relocalism inform urban and place making concepts?
Relocalism is the practice of grassroots arts-based or led tactical interventions in the urban realm, participated in by citizens and local communities with an aim to improving the urban lived experience and environment by cultivating the connections between people, place and to community. This research aims to investigate this phenomena and its affect on the lived experience of city life for individuals and communities. As relocalism is a form of arts practice, an urban phenomenon and is encountered individually as a psychological experience relating to community involvement, an understanding of relocalism will be contextualised by literature from participatory arts, urban, place making and psychology theory.
Relocalism is emerging in the context of the functions of cities, their cultural interactions and democratic mechanisms for civic participation being actively questioned by some citizens, artists and city authorities. There is an accompanying rise of a wellbeing agenda in policy and in new forms of cultural placemaking being formed by hyper-local activists and an increased attention on the arts as a means of urban revitalization.
Operating at the intersection of participatory arts, place making and urban theory and psychological thinking and based on case study research, this project will investigate relations between participation in relocalism projects as an artform, social capital and participatory citizenship to uncover the phenomena of relocalism for its participants and the community they operate in. The findings will hopefully inform urban policy and planning decision-making and inform future cities thinking and development and will thus be of interest to the following key audiences:
Qualitative and comparative case study methodology has been chosen as it offers the opportunity to gain a holistic view of relocalism across the chosen case studies and affords the scope for in-depth research and presentation of findings based on the use of interviews and participant observation as the main methods. This methodology will enable the researcher to study the projects in context and reach a phenomenological understanding of relocalism through an inductive process.
This methodology will be primed by contemporary debates in grounded theory, ethnography and ethnomethodology. These methodologies involve explanation building based on participant observation; allow the simultaneous collection of data and analysis; the pursuit of emergent themes from a simultaneous process; the inductive construction of data categories that explain social processes as observed; and the integration of these categories into a theoretical framework.
Case studies will be in the UK, Europe and USA.